Running an independent optometry practice in 2020 is challenging; managers and owners are required to wear many different hats. Not only are large competitors saturating the market, patients’ expectations are higher than ever. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to promote your practice, reach more people and deliver an exceptional patient experience. Here are some of the actionable steps you can take to set your practice apart.
Identify your unique value proposition
Your unique value proposition is a simple statement that clearly defines what your practice offers and what sets you apart from others. Identifying this makes it clear to new and existing patients why they should choose you.
Start with what do you do well that competitors don’t – what’s your point of difference? This can be anything from offering a highly specialised service, the unique qualifications of your team, an exclusive range of frames, or simply how you go the extra mile when it comes to patient care. Whatever it is, build your practice’s brand around it. Keep it simple, ensure your whole team is across this and communicate it in everything you do.
Personalised care plans
For the most part, people want healthcare professionals they know and trust, who understand their history and have their details readily available on file. Not only does this make life easier, it sets them at ease if issues arise. Invest the time to get to know your patients and use that information to create long-term eye health plans tailored to their needs. This not only ensures greater continuity of care, but it also gives patients a tangible timeline of their future healthcare with you.
Flex your flexibility
While larger optometry practices may appear to have the advantage when it comes to budget and reach, one of the major upsides of running an independent practice is the freedom and flexibility you have. This allows you to be far more agile and to more easily implement new tools and processes, adapting to new industry standards and changing needs. It’s important you take advantage of this. Commit to processes and systems that allow you to work more efficiently and create convenient, stress-free experiences for your patients.
Digitise your booking system
Having an efficient online booking system not only makes things easier for your staff but gives patients the convenience of being able to book a health appointment when they want and need, 24/7. A MyHealth1st’s OnlineAppointments solution, already used by over 30% of independent optometrists in New Zealand, enables people to easily view available appointments and book anytime from their smartphone or computer.
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback is perhaps one of the most important activities for any business. It provides you with insights that will help you improve the experience you offer. It also demonstrates to your patients that you value what they think. Feedback can be requested via email, a customised survey or feedback system, a printed feedback form, or in-person.
Become an expert resource
We live in an age where information is available at our fingertips but, unfortunately, not all of it is accurate. Draw on your expertise and provide patients with factual, easy-to-understand content on your website, social media channels, or leaflets in your practice. This helps patients feel more informed and positions you as a trusted and reliable expert.
As well as delivering valuable information and engaging audiences, social media can be a great way to showcase new services, products or offers. This will improve the overall understanding of what your practice offers, encouraging more bookings and sales.
Appear in more places online
For many people, the first place they start when researching health issues is Google. Developing content on your website has the added benefit of improving your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO), meaning you appear in more people’s web searches. You can also run Google Ads to ensure your business is at the top of people’s search results.
Google Ads and other forms of digital marketing such as Facebook, Instagram, website display ads and Google Shopping can be powerful and cost-effective ways to promote your practice, get more patients through your door and improve patient loyalty. Unfortunately, a lack of time, budget and experience can make it seem overwhelming. While every practice is different, if you are considering marketing, it often makes economic sense to work with external digital experts to ensure you’re getting the most out of your marketing spend.
Will Williams is marketing director at 1st Group, the ASX-listed company behind MyHealth1st. He has worked primarily in the health and technology sector, with extensive experience across marketing, sales and customer management. email@example.com